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Health
Suicide far too common among Alaska Native villages


The suicide rate among Alaska Natives is three times that of non-Native Alaskans and five times the national rate, The New York Times reports.

Most victims are young. Natives ages 10 to 19 accounted for 61 percent of suicides in the state and Natives in the 20-to-29 age group had the most suicides. About 80 percent of the victims were male.

Alcoholism, depression, mental illness and loss of culture are linked to the high suicide rate. "They’ve lost their culture, they don’t have a way to support their family, and then what we see is a lot of alcohol and drug use, particularly alcohol," a state behavioral health manager told the paper. “There’s such a feeling of hopelessness, particularly for young men.”

In the Yupik village of Bethel, William George Kinzy was 34 when he hanged himself. While the family was preparing a memorial feast, his younger brother, Evon David Waska Jr., 20, shot himself. They died 38 days apart.

Get the Story:
In Native Alaskan Villages, a Culture of Sorrow (The New York Times 5/14)
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